A Southern California man died last week after contracting West Nile virus in what is likely the first death caused by the disease this year in the state, officials said.
West Nile virus, which is transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite, kills Californians every year. Last year, 11 people in the state died of West Nile, and 44 in the previous year.
The man, who died on July 4, lived in Imperial County and had a history of other health problems, according to county health officials. The Desert Sun identified him as 74-year-old Robert Mears, a retired construction worker.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the resident that passed away as result of complications with WNV. This local death serves as a reminder to our community of the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites,” Imperial County health officer Dr. Stephen Munday said in a statement.
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